Scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed International Women’s Day is a hot topic. This makes sense because most of my friends and individuals/groups I follow are feminist. A number of posts state “Happy International Women’s Day” or comment that today is a day for women and girls to feel special. And it is true. Today is a day for celebration. It is important to celebrate our survival and accomplishments and we deserve to feel special. However…
I don’t want to by cynical or negative, but I am uncomfortable with “Happy International Women’s Day” and individualized comments related to the self-esteem and self-worth of women and girls. Happy doesn’t feel like the right word. Today is a celebration of resistance and resilience. It is a day to reflect on the complicated, multiple and intersecting oppressions women and girls have faced historical and continue to face today. Today started as a Socialist day of political action for working women in 1909. It became popularized by the UN during the second-wave women’s movement as a day to recognize gender inequality and the international rights of women and girls. “Happy” feels like Valentine’s Day. Like IWD is a day to love women without a woman-loving politic.
I don’t want to say we shouldn’t be happy, but it seems to me as though it undermines the political intentions of today. By using such blanket statements we engage with IWD without explicitly recognizing the gender inequality that is embedded within all of our daily lives. We fail to raise the consciousness of others or discuss the ways in which we are committed to ending gendered oppressions. This is particularly of important as Harper has clawed back women’s rights and we are failing to integrate principles of gender equity into Canadian culture, politics and society.
So, are you happy? If so, why? About what? If not, what would the world look like for you to be happy? What are we committed to resisting? What do we resist everyday? How? Why do we think women/girls are special? Is it just because they are women/girls or do they embody characteristics or qualities that we appreciate? Are they doing amazing things?